The world needs a focused and aesthetically driven forum for fragrance and design.
Helder Suffenplan: How did the three of you meet and when did you come up with the idea of creating ELEMENTs?
Jeff Lawson: Uli was the connector. I knew Uli from the art business and Frederick knew Uli from the fragrance industry.
Frederick Bouchardy: We each had the same idea independently — that the world could use a focused and aesthetically driven forum for fragrance and design. This idea turned into the first edition of ELEMENTs in less than a year, and the community has grown and become more vibrant ever since.
HS: What was the original idea behind ELEMENTs?
JL: To create a show that changes the way trade events operate for design, fragrance and luxury products.
FB: We can communicate and exchange information and even material goods so quickly and easily nowadays; however, for the categories and fields ELEMENTs covers, there is nothing quite like being able to review — see, touch, smell — those items in person and in context. And that is just what ELEMENTs provides — an especially beautiful context, at that.
Ulrich Lang: I strive to combine my passions for scent and contemporary photography.
Key Visual for aperture by Ulrich Lang New York.
Photography by Olivia Bee.
HS: Uli, you had been in the beauty and fragrance business for quite some time before you decided to create your own brand. Have you always wanted to run your own perfume brand?
Ulrich Lang: Growing up with fragrance and lotions and potions — my grandmother owned a small perfumery and salon in the South of Germany — I developed a very good nose early on. I inherited a sense of aesthetics and design from my mother who took me to design exhibits, Art Basel, etc. when I was a teenager.
I later developed the contemporary business for the art portal artnet.com and started collecting contemporary photography, an art form that speaks to me to this day. Combining my passions for scent and contemporary photography is the concept behind the line I launched in 2003 — which was early days for independent perfumery. My wish to run a perfume brand developed over the years, thanks also to experience gained in specific related fields, I would say.
HS: Where do you find inspiration for your perfumes and how do you communicate what you have in mind to the perfumers?
UL: In terms of concepts and visuals a lot of inspiration obviously comes from the art world; yet often, my very first idea is about an ingredient or how the finished product should smell. I bring the perfumer a very precise idea and luckily I work with people who know me well, understand my universe and can translate that idea very easily.
The city of Backnang, Swabia.
Historical photo. Via: www.backnang.de
HS: Does the fact that you grew up in the beautiful rural South of Germany have any impact on your creative work?
UL: Definitely. I love the simplicity and quietness of living in the South of Germany. And I think that shows in my work — I consider myself to be authentic and humble as a result of my upbringing.
HS: Frederick, how did you find your way into fragrance?
FB: By accident, really. What started as a small design project became a boutique collection of natural scented candles, which then became an obsession with sourcing raw materials of a certain caliber, which ultimately became a dynamic fragrance design company. Luckily, both of my parents have experience in design and manufacturing. Their guidance has been invaluable.
Frederick Bouchardy: I think of Joya as a creative collective.
HS: What is the original concept behind your label Joya?
FB: We describe Joya as designers and producers of fragranced artifacts. We have the selectively and internationally distributed perfumes, personal care and home ambiance. We also execute collaborative projects with fashion designers, artists, architects, spa, hotels, resorts, and more all the time. And we are manufacturers with a full-time ceramic studio producing our own porcelain, daily. This affords us ultimate control — over quality, design direction, materials, partners, production, inventory, everything. I think of Joya as a creative collective with unique manufacturing capabilities.
Scented candles from Joya’s Perfume in Porcelain collection.
Photo via www.joyastudio.com
Jeff Lawson: Both the art world and the fragrance world are driven by aesthetics and quality.
HS: Jeff, you come from an art-dealing and curating background. In 2012 you started UNTITLED, a satellite art fair to Art Basel | Miami Beach. How did you get involved with perfume and ELEMENTs?
JL: I’m a trade show organizer and I realized there was an opportunity to create a trade show in the fragrance industry that would help improve how buyers and sellers interact in this industry. Prior to ELEMENTs there was no show like ours in the US. There was no show that created an appealing environment for both buyers and sellers. ELEMENTs has created, and continues to promote an atmosphere that features quality, creativity, design, and interaction.
“Fake tent” entrance at the 2013 UNTITLED, Miami.
HS: Did you have any connection to fragrance before?
JL: No I did not; my background is in fine arts.
HS: If you compare the attitude in the art world to the mindset of fragrance people — what are the main similarities and differences?
JL: There are very few similarities between the two industries, but there is one common thread: both worlds are very driven predominantly by aesthetics and quality. By approaching ELEMENTs in that we are able to produce great and global events that improved how people view trade shows in this arena.
Ulrich Lang: We have to keep ELEMENTs fresh and appealing!
HS: What do you have in store for visitors and exhibitors during ELEMENTs in February this year? What will be new, compared to the previous shows?
UL: We are dividing the exhibitors by category, as previously mentioned, and the theme this time around is alchemy and “The Academy of the Secrets of Nature.” Visitors can look forward to many newcomers. We have to keep it fresh and appealing.
“The Academy of the Secrets of Nature.”
Courtesy of www.elements-showcase.com
HS: What is your vision for ELEMENTs Showcase in, let’s say, five years from now?
JL: ELEMENTs is growing fast. We have expanded the showcase internationally to include Dubai, with London and Tokyo to follow in the next 12 to 18 months. More importantly, ELEMENTs has expanded and now includes more than fragrance. The initial concept was to create a dynamic trade fair to showcase the power of design in a formula that appeals to exhibitors and retailers alike. We’re finally fulfilling that mission at the upcoming February show, by grouping products into categories named for the Seven Metals of Antiquity.
FB: We will continue to find the best emerging designers and companies from all over the world, continue to develop the new categories, and continue to enhance the visitor experience with innovative installations, demos, workshops, discussions, and more.
Frederick Bouchardy: Almost everything I love is in New York.
HS: Frederick and Uli, what makes life in New York special to you?
UL: A combination of “can do” attitude in business and tremendous inspiration coming from the people who live and pass through here, plus the endless cultural offerings.
FB: Almost everything I love is here. Also, the diversity, inspiration, convenience, and opportunity.
HS: And from a professional scent perspective: What makes New York an attractive place for the perfume industry?
UL: You have a great infrastructure here. You can work with the best talent — be it a master perfumer, top fragrance house, or product and graphic designers. New York is extremely competitive so people always aim to achieve their very best — and things can be accomplished fast. Plus: all the media is based right here in New York.
FB: From a global perspective, we are in some ways very centrally located! As Uli says, we are surrounded by the best of the best. The rest of the best aren’t too far anyway…
HS: What smell makes you think of New York, when you are abroad?
UL: My third fragrance, nightscape. My place in Greenwich Village smells of it.
FB: Cut grass and soil, sesame, cement.
HS: Thank you!